It was time to bond with Nachman, our youngest son, who recently celebrated his barmitzvah and is going to Telz Yeshiva next year.
What better way than to go on a trip to New York with another 100 college students and young professionals from across the country.
Ohr Somayach Yeshiva in Yerushalayim runs a phenomenal 4 day program every summer and winter called the Mentors Mission, matching up business people from New York, Lakewood, Chicago etc, with students who are at Ohr Somayach over their summer or winter break. The program includes learning, touring and Shabbos together. As a follow up, Ohr Somayach organizes another shabbaton in New York over Presidents Day weekend.
This was my first time back in 3 years and 4 JET students accompanied Nachman and me.
On the first night, true to Ohr Somayach’s mission, we had a Talmud learning session. Next morning after breakfast, we headed to Manhattan and to the One World Observatory at the top of the Freedom Tower. It was a beautiful, clear day and the views were stunning.
Breakfast with JET students, (left to right) Jeff, Kal, Zalman, Isaac and Cameron
We walked through the stunningly designed, brand new Oculus Mall to the offices of Agudath Israel of America where lunch was hosted by Exectutive VP, Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel and heard from Meridian Capital CEO, Ralph Herczka.
Ralph Herczka, CEO of Meridian Capital in conversation with students at the Agudath Israel headquarters in Manhattan
We headed back to Brooklyn to get ready for Shabbos. We all stayed with the Elbogen family, who were very gracious hosts and with whom we had the Shabbos day meal. Friday night we ate by another family and got to fire questions at senior Ohr Somayach lecturer, Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb. It was my turn to be on the receiving end of the incredible phenomenon of Jewish people hosting complete strangers in their homes.
We davened at Khal Kol Torah on Avenue M. Rabbi Gelwirth told a great story, illustrating what a royal gift Shabbos is.
The weather was gorgeous the whole weekend and we took advantage, going ice skating in Prospect Park Sunday morning. We also got to visit the Living Torah Museum, where students got to hold and touch real archeological artifacts, including Roman gladiator swords and ancient shekel coins, bringing the stories in the Torah to life.
Skating in Prospect Park
Rabbi Deutsch at the fascinating Living Torah Museum
Our next stop was the home of successful businessman, Shmuel Dovid Friedman, who made his fortune then retired to study Torah full time. He is the author of many seforim, which he gladly gave to anyone who wanted one. What an example of someone who knows his priorities in life for the students, just beginning on their careers.
Kal and Zalman talking to Rabbi Friedman
Since it was Presidents Day the next day, some of us stayed over an extra night in Monsey. We had a fascinating meeting with editor of the Yated, Rabbi Lipschutz and dinner at the Glick family. I had met Moshe Glick at an Ohr Somayach ski shabbaton in Park City, Utah a few years ago.
Rabbi Lipschutz, editor of the Yated, explaining the purpose of his newspaper
And skiing is what we did the next day at Mountain Creek Resort. There was enough snow to make it a really fun day and Nachman and I got in a dozen or so really good runs.
The Rugby Rabbi skiing
It was a trip to remember and savor, not just for Nachman and me, but also for the students. They learned Torah, celebrated Shabbos, had fun, made friends.
All of this wouldn’t have been possible without the generosity of so many people, and the incredible organizational skills of Rabbi Binyomin Schonblum, of Ohr Somayach.